Album Review: ELERI – The Carnival

The UK country artist continues to showcase the depth and adventure of her sound on her sophomore LP The Carnival

While spending over half a decade cutting her teeth in the UK music scene, Swansea artist ELERI has been crafting an engrossing and personal country sound that takes the genre and injects it with her own distinctive charm and sense of appeal, creating a diverse and thoughtful sound that explores a range of themes and emotions. The artist’s sophomore album The Carnival is an exploration and celebration of her style, exploring the last few years of her life and her journey with the deftness and endearing appeal that she has grown known for.

The first track on the album is ‘Magic’, a track that immediately establishes the raw and unfiltered nature of the release with a fun introduction from the artist, almost as if you’re hearing it in a live setting and this is the start of the show. The track itself does a great job of setting the tone, with a bouncy, infinitely catchy country feel that is packed full of melody and personality in equal measure.

This is followed by ‘Heels To Hell’, a track that showcases a more fierce side to the artist and a real sense of bite and cutting edge. The vocals and lyrics here have a passionate and ruthless charm to them which makes for a really fun listening experience, bringing the fiery track to life in emphatic style.

The track is a whirlwind of different emotions throughout, and the transition from ‘Heels To Hell’ to ‘Heads I’m Yours (Tails You’re Mine)’ exemplifies this, trading in the former track’s fire for an affable, almost conversational love song that feels endlessly charming and approachable. Just three tracks in and this album has already showcased a really engrossing amount of range and appeal, while the artist’s charismatic charm ties everything together in a way that doesn’t feel jarring or thrown together.

Melding country with rock and pop makes for a tonne of highlights on the album, and ‘Good For a Girl’ is one of the poppiest and most radio-friendly tracks on the whole thing. The track has this sultry, empowering appeal throughout, with the artist’s vocals and a thoughtful feature from Eädyth making for an earworm of a release that will stick with you for long after your listen.

‘Blue Skies A Comin” sees the album delve into more ballad-esque territory, with the softness of the artist’s sound and vocals shining on a track that benefits from its lush simplicity and serene charm. The thoughtful and uplifting nature of the lyrics and ELERI’s gentle vocals make for one of the most authentic and engrossing tracks you’re likely to hear anytime soon.

The tempo picks up again on ‘Live Wire’, and the attitude and energy creeps back into the artist’s delivery again, providing this kind of fierceness and power that she articulates so well. This track is packed full of fun melodic moments and has elements of alternative rock that work their way into the instrumentation and sound to give it that bit more of a dynamic edge.

‘Karaoke’ follows and feels like a stadium sized, country-pop anthem that you could imagine hearing on the radio when driving through long open roads in the US. The catchy appeal of this sound and the modern edge of the sound provides it with enough to make it stand out and feel engaging, and as the track progresses and grows it just continues to reaffirm the artist’s affable sense of personality and character.

Things delve into a more traditional country route on ‘Snake Like You’, with the driving melodies and poppy charm swapped out for more western influences and embracing a darker, more biting aesthetic. The guitars here and the ice cold demeanour of the artist and her vocals feel inspired, as well as another excellent feature, this time from Millie Blooms.

‘When We Collide’ (thankfully not another cover of the Biffy Clyro track), is a rousing and anthemic release that showcases the more all-encompassing and vast reaches the the artist and her sound can reach. Throughout the track, her vocals and the instrumentation really guide the track into such heights and provide it with this soaring and impactful feel that stands out even on an album with so much variety and tonal shifts.

This is quickly juxtaposed by ‘Burn The Candle Down’, an intimate and stirring track that features vocals from both ELERI and Leon Stanford, the way that the vocals work together and the quiet chemistry between the artists makes for some really heartfelt and powerful moments, with this track and ‘When We Collide’ doing a great job of showcasing the duality of the artist and the scope and deftness of her far-reaching appeal and style.

The more rock-oriented facets of ELERI’s sound are again explored on ‘Calling It’, a track that is packed full of impactful moments and a seismic, instantly memorable chorus that feels riveting and adventurous. Much like a Carnival, this album truly is a rollercoaster of feelings and emotions that captures all different facets of life, with ELERI’s sound capable of conjuring all kinds of feelings from listeners.

The artist’s latest single ‘Bang Bang’ is next, a track that continues to showcase this fiercer, more unabashed side of ELERI and her sound, this time alongside Paige Wolfe. The track is packed full of charm and upbeat appeal, moving at a speedy, exciting pace and packed full of the kind of musical nuance and charm that we have come to expect from such a stellar album.

The album closes out with ‘Every Road’, an emotive country track that feels like a fitting way to close out the album. Despite all of the deviances and crossovers into other genres, The Carnival is a country album at its core, and it is these tracks that delve back to the genres roots that feel like they hold it together and give it its real sense of DNA alongside all of the adventure and creativity. Lyrically, the track feels poignant and engrossing, almost like a summation of the artist’s journey that she’s taken on on the album. A fitting way to close out a really great LP that is flooded with lyrical depth and engrossing ideas to keep things feeling fresh.